School, IEPs And Moving To A Different School/State
Families move. It happens. Jobs, marriage, divorce, lots of reasons. The most important takeaways from this article are:
- Just because a child moves, does not mean that their needs have changed. So why should their IEP change?
- The new school district MUST PROVIDE you with any proposed IEP changes on a PWN. (read more below)
Moving is stressful enough. You definitely want to be well-informed and get ahead of any potential IEP issues that arise.
If anything, a child’s areas of need would increase, not decrease, during a household move.
Because this is the common theme I see:
- Family moves. Enrolls in a new district.
- The new district takes a few weeks to get to know the child, then does a re-eval.
- Re-eval and new IEP, more often than not, have fewer supports and services than the IEP they came with.
Sound familiar? I can sense a lot of nodding heads. In my mind, if what has worked at the previous school district was working and allowing the child to make meaningful progress, there is no reason to change it.
Read and Learn the PWN
I cannot stress this enough. Learn as much as you can about the PWN and how to use it. The new district MUST PROVIDE you with any proposed changes to the IEP on a PWN. A new district cannot just change an IEP–they must have valid reasons for it and explain those reasons on a PWN.
Read all about PWN | Prior Written Notice
FAQs: IEP and Moving to a New School/State
This is not a simple yes/no. Remember that IEP placement is the last decision made in the process. If you are staying in the same district, there is no reason to change the placement. However, if you switch districts, the new district must implement the IEP.
Mostly yes. However, new schools typically want to get to know the child for a few weeks or months and then do their own evaluations. But IDEA is the federal IEP law, so yes, IDEA applies.
I have tips for moving with an IEP outlined below.
Familiarize yourself with your Procedural Safeguards and use them if necessary.
If it is what your child needs, there is no we don’t do that here. See the tips below. But what I often see is: a child needs certain support, placement, or service that the new district doesn’t offer, so in their re-evals, they determine that service is not needed. Go with your gut and fight for your child.
If you are moving to another district, most often the answer is no. School districts usually have residency requirements. There are some exceptions if your home district is particularly poor performing. Look, I hate it–our education system is not balanced at all. But if you could pay cheaper taxes in one district and go to the ‘better’ school in another district (with higher taxes), then everyone would do that.
Again, it makes no sense to me to change the IEP just because a child has moved. Mind you, I always think it’s good to have another evaluation to know more about your child. Particularly if those IEP evaluations are being done by new people and new sets of eyes. But I have not seen any case law or anything specific to keeping an IEP the same when you move.
And believe me…I get it! We have contemplated moving many times. The reason we don’t is because of my son’s placement. I fought long and hard to get it. I’m not doing that battle all over again, no way!
IEP Moving Advice
Moving is both scary and stressful. Choosing a new house and a new school district can be scary, especially if you need Special Ed services. Still, I have heard some horror stories about some of the “best” school districts in my state. So take each opinion with a grain of salt, as they say. Read as much as you can online to see if you can get a picture of what the district looks like.
Tips for making your IEP and moving transition easier.
- Remember that your child’s needs have not changed. The same child who lived in NY is the same kid who is moving to Wyoming. The environment changed, your child did not.
- There is no “We don’t do that here.” Yes, yes you do. If it is what the child needs.
- They may need more supports in dealing with change, transition, and a new environment.
- Talk with their current home and school team and ask their advice on their area of expertise.
- I would do a full FERPA request so that you have it all to take with you. You very likely will be told, “Oh no worries, we’ll send all the records to the new school.” Up to you if that is satisfactory. It is your right to request and receive them.
- Each state does have a Protecting and Advocacy group for Disabilities, so you may want to familiarize yourself with them before moving. You can call them and see if they recommend any parent groups or where they send parents who need IEP help and educational advocates.
- Find a Facebook group that is regional for your new location.
- Visit schools, take a look around. Do internet searches for Facebook groups and other parent groups and see what they have to say (again, with a grain of salt!).
- From my experience, when a child moves, the new school district follows the same IEP for anywhere from 30-60 days. That gives the child a chance to settle into the new school. Then, they usually (again, my experience) do a whole new re-evaluation and take it from there. You should also read up on pendency and stay-put if there is disagreement with your new district. The pendency clause should protect the child if you disagree until it’s settled but you need to understand how it works.
- If your child is in an out-of-district placement or an APS, or in a placement that is significantly outside of usual accommodations and pull-out or push-in services, I would call and arrange a meeting with the Special Ed Director as soon as you choose your home.
- Introduce yourself, explain your situation and tell them that you want to bring your child in before the fall so that he can see the new building. Keep things positive and cordial right from the get-go. This is also a good time to set the stage from the beginning. If you haven’t done so, do your child’s Vision Statement. Then your new district knows from the start what your vision is for your child.
- I have had divorced parents as clients, in neighboring districts, and the child switched custody. It wasn’t usually a problem as far as maintaining and implementing his IEP, he merely struggled with the transition. I’ve also had a similar situation with a child in an APS, divorced parents lived in neighboring districts. The child was able to stay in APS after he moved to a new district.
- Once your child is settled in and they are doing a re-eval, make sure you take full advantage of the rights that parents have, such as your list of parental concerns and so on.
States certainly have their specific regs and quirks, but basically it should be the same. IDEA is a federal regulation, so not too much in your IEP process should change.